CAREER ADVANCEMENT / OCT. 26, 2014
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How to Deal With Perfectionism

Have you set unrealistic goals for yourself? Are you afraid of failure? Do you fear taking risks? Are you unable to handle criticism? Do you have difficulty delegating tasks to others? If you have any of these traits, then you might be a perfectionist. Though it could help you achieve high standards at work, such a mindset is generally unhealthy. Here are some of the negative effects of perfectionism:

  • Poor health - Research has shown that perfectionism is closely related to health problems such as anxiety, migraines, eating disorders, personality disorders and depression. In addition, striving for perfection can also lead to stress, reduced productivity and turbulent relationships.
  • Low self-esteem - Perfectionists base their self-worth on their accomplishments, and also imagine that other people judge them on this basis. If they don’t live up to their expectations, they are likely to develop a low self-esteem.
  • Procrastination - Most perfectionists grapple with the fear of failure. When faced with a new project or task, they are likely to put it off until they find the perfect way of getting it done. This tendency leads to delays in their work and negatively affects their relationships at the workplace.
  • Inhibited creativity - Due to the fear of failure, perfectionists have a tendency to play safe. They are unwilling to take risks and give full expression to their dreams. As a result, their creativity ends up being inhibited.

The following are some useful tips for dealing with perfectionism:

1. Set achievable goals

Perfectionists have a tendency of setting goals which are not realistic. You need to learn to set goals that are achievable. Create several long-term goals and break them down into monthly and even weekly goals. As you accomplish the smaller goals, your self-esteem will be built up.

2. Don’t fear mistakes

Mistakes are a normal part of our lives. Therefore, you should not be afraid of failing in the pursuit of your goals. If examined properly, mistakes can provide valuable lessons for life. What you learn from your mistakes will help you grow and make better decisions in future.

3. Be aware of your emotions

If you find yourself feeling scared, despondent or anxious about a project, it is possible that you have set an unrealistic goal for yourself. Take time to reexamine your goals and make adjustments where necessary. If you still feel inadequate, you could use affirmations to reprogram your thoughts and boost your self-esteem.

4. Relax your personal rules

The lives of perfectionists are usually controlled by rigid rules. This could be anything from ‘There must never be a crease on my shirt’ to ‘I must never make a spelling mistake in my emails’. Though there is nothing wrong with having high personal standards, you need to ensure that they are flexible and not constricting. Take time to examine your rules and adjust them to be more flexible and forgiving.

5. Be spontaneous

Being spontaneous can enhance your personal well being as well as your productivity. Therefore, when at work, be sure to take regular short breaks. Do deep breathing exercises or walk around for a few minutes. When you are not at work, indulge in a hobby or take time to hang out with friends.

Though excellence in the workplace is important, perfectionism ends up doing more harm than good. It is therefore very important to deal with these self-defeating thought patterns urgently.

Image: Getty Creative, Thomas Barwick

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